Kaiser Permanente workers with the SEIU Local 105 union are on strike Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2023, at the Lakewood Medical Offices. (Lindsey Toomer/ Colorado Newsline)
Kaiser Permanente and union leadership reached a tentative agreement that health care workers say will better meet their needs and address staffing shortages.
After months of negotiations and the largest health care strike in U.S. history, the tentative agreement announced Friday between workers and Kaiser would establish new minimum wages, provide guaranteed wage increases of 21% over four years, protect against outsourcing, and invest in new professional development and training.
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In Colorado, 3,000 health care workers represented by Service Employees International Union Local 105 went on strike across nearly 30 clinics throughout the Front Range last week. Medical assistants, patient registration and call center staff, schedulers, lab and imagery technicians and others left their jobs for the picket lines, with negotiations resuming earlier this week. The coalition of unions also sent official notice to Kaiser that it would prepare for another strike in early November if an agreement wasn’t reached. The notice has since been withdrawn.
“This agreement is nothing short of historic,” Stephanie Felix-Sowy, president of SEIU Local 105, said in a statement. “It’s a massive step in the right direction towards truly addressing the crisis in patient care and reducing wait times. Healthcare workers stood united. They went out on strike in record numbers. Now, they’ve won unprecedented raises and the protections and investment needed to begin safely staffing these facilities for quality patient care.”
This agreement is nothing short of historic.
– Stephanie Felix-Sowy, president of SEIU Local 105
Kaiser released a statement Friday that said the tentative four-year agreement now needs to be ratified by the coalition of unions representing 82,000 health care workers across the country.
“The new 4-year agreement will offer Coalition-represented employees competitive wages, excellent benefits, generous retirement income plans, and valuable job training opportunities that support their economic well-being, advance our shared mission, and keep Kaiser Permanente a best place to work and receive care,” the statement from Kaiser said.
Across the country, 75,000 Kaiser staff members in Colorado, California, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii and Maryland had gone on strike for three days.
President Joe Biden released a statement Friday about the tentative agreement.
“I’m grateful to Kaiser Permanente and the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions for coming together in good faith to ensure these workers can continue caring for our neighbors and loved ones,” Biden said. “Health care workers and support staff kept our hospitals — and our nation — going during the dark months of the pandemic. They had our backs during one of our nation’s toughest times. We must continue to have theirs.
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